Joselli Audain Deans is an Associate Professor in the School of Dance at the University of Utah. She joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) after receiving most of her training at the company’s school. During her career with DTH she danced numerous roles, including “the accused as a child” in Agnes de Mille’s Fall River Legend, the Bride in Geoffrey Holder’s Dougla, and demi-soloist roles in Swan Lake and George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. A scholar and an artist, she holds a Doctorate in Dance Education from Temple University. Her dissertation entitled “Black Ballerinas Dancing on the Edge” written under the late Kariamu Welsh, documents the lives of Delores Browne and Raven Wilkinson and analyses how biased ideas and practices impact African American ballet dancers, then and now.
She has taught dance technique at Philadanco and several academic institutions including Bryn Mawr College, Eastern University and Temple University. Her work has been presented at scholarly conferences and institutions, including the International Association of Blacks in Dance, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, University of Georgia, Temple University, and Collegium for African Diaspora Dance Corps de Ballet International. Her research is published on Arthur Mitchell’s archival collection on Columbia University’s library website curated by Lynn Garafola and in (Re:) Claiming Ballet edited by Adesola Akinleye. She has served as a consultant for several institutions and projects including for DTH, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, the Dance Oral History Project for NYPL, the documentary Black Ballerina, and was one of four design and facilitation team member for the Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in ballet. Currently, she is completing a chapter on ballerina Delores Browne for The Oxford Handbook of Black Studies edited by Thomas F. DeFrantz, published by Oxford University Press.